It is with deep regret that we report the passing on 28 March 2016 of a true South African military hero, the highest decorated South African Defence Force member, Major Arthur Walker HCG and bar, SM.
Major Arthur Walker HCG and bar, SM, was a South African Air Force helicopter pilot of no equal, twice recipient of the Honoris Crux Gold decoration during the South African Border War, a truly unique achievement. The Honoris Crux Gold was the highest military award for bravery awarded to members of the South African Defence Force at that time.
Born on 10 February 1953 in Johannesburg, he matriculated from King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and went to the army in 1971. He obtained his pilot's wings in 1977 and flew for 7 Squadron, Rhodesian Air Force, before re-joining the South African Air Force in 1980. While flying an Alouette III helicopter, based at AFB Ondangwa in 1981, he risked his life during a night operation in Angola, by turning on the lights of his helicopter to draw enemy fire away from another helicopter. For this act of bravery, he was awarded his first Honoris Crux Gold. The citation reads:
p>'During January 1981, two Alouettes, with Lieutenant Walker as flight leader, carried out close air support operations resulting in the Alouettes coming under intense enemy artillery and anti-aircraft fire. He only withdrew when ordered to do so. Later Lieutenant Walker returned to the contact area to provide top cover for a Puma helicopter assigned to casualty evacuation. Again he was subject to heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire. During the withdrawal the second helicopter developed difficulties and called for assistance. Yet again Captain Walker returned to provide top cover, drawing virtually all the antiaircraft fire to his AloueUe. His courageous act prevented the loss of an Alouette and crew.
Lieutenant Walker's actions were not only an outstanding display of professionalism, devotion to duty and courage, but also constitute exceptional deeds of bravery under enemy fire and makes him a worthy recipient of the Honoris Crux Gold.'
In December 1981, he again displayed his exceptional courage and devotion to duty by landing in enemy territory to search for and rescue the crew of a helicopter that had been shot down, an Alouette III of the SAAF. The citation for the Bar to his Honoris Crux Gold reads:
'During December 1981 Captain Walker was again requested to provide top cover for the evacuation of a seriously wounded soldier. On take-off with the evacuee his number two helicopter was hit and crash-landed. Without hesitation and with total disregard for his personal safety, Captain Walker landed near the wrecked helicopter and immediately searched for the crew. Eventually the situation became suicidal, compelling Captain Walker and his crew to withdraw. When he was airborne he spotted the missing crew and yet again, without hesitation and despite the fact that virtually all enemy fire was now [aimed] in his direction, he landed and lifted the crew to safety.
Through this courageous deed he prevented the loss of two men. His distinguished actions, devotion to duty and courage make him a credit to the South African Defence Force in general, the South African Air Force in particular and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bar to the Honoris Crux Gold.'
He will be sorely missed by family, friends and fellow veterans. Lest we forget.
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